“What I’ve learnt along the way is that neurodivergent people are actually just amazing and we’ve achieved some of the greatest things in the world.”
The Music have given me freedom to write a piece about my adventure with ADHD and a late diagnosis. I’m grateful for the freedom to write what I like for this, but now that I know I have ADHD and no structure for this piece, this could go anywhere.
I’ve always been creative, passionate, and full of personality. Throughout life I’ve also struggled with mental health, structure, feeling different for some reason and basically wondering why I did things a little differently to the ‘average’ person, or struggled with seemingly simple things.
I’m a songwriter and have been singing and fuelling my soul with music since I was a toddler. I’ve been relatively successful in my music career so far, but there have been some real personal struggles and self-inflicted setbacks along the way of my career and life.
Over lockdown and this whole bloody pandemic, we lost routine, a lot of culture, human interaction, and a lot of things that make life worth living. My mental health took a huge battering through this time, adding personal issues, family issues, career uncertainty, no direction and health issues to the mix. My undiagnosed ADHD symptoms reached the worst they have ever been and I was once again feeling lower than I thought I could go.
So how did I finally get diagnosed with ADHD? I was literally scrolling TikTok last year after re-downloading it, and it was putting together my little algorithm, and within a couple of hours of starting my account again I got a few videos about ADHD symptoms. Relating to them and kind of picking up my jaw up from the floor, WITHOUT jumping to any conclusions, I started deep diving into research, it became like an obsession (a symptom of ADHD, hyper focusing). I booked into the GP, we did a checklist and I’m ticking all the boxes.
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For me, ADHD presents like:
ALL these things I’ve been dealing with all my life. Some things I couldn’t even label, or properly identify started to make sense and have reasons.
With recording and writing music, it’s made me realise that the way I create is full of ADHD symptoms. For example, I hyper focus and get so invested in a song idea until it’s done. Or when I’m recording I’m either super invested to the point of overthinking or I can’t focus and need heaps of breaks. All these little things were “Ah-huh” moments when realising it all has something to do with ADHD!
I feel my feelings sooo much which definitely helps with my songwriting, it’s almost more of a need to write songs and express what I feel than a want.
Realising why or even just the fact that I have been doing these things at all is a HUGE thing for my head to comprehend at 27.
After waiting for eight months, I finally got in to see a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with mostly inattentive ADHD. Something by that point I pretty much knew, but having it confirmed was like mind blown on top of being mind blown from the discovery.
Also, having to go through that process of getting an appointment with a psychiatrist was extremely hard with ADHD (Abbie Chatfield also talked about this, another amazing woman with a late diagnosis).
And yep, one of the reasons there is a lot of late or no diagnosis in women, is that we are good at masking our symptoms and are less likely to be as obviously hyperactive as young boys. BUT there is of course sexism in the system and the history of diagnosis. It was not that long ago it was believed that ADHD in females didn’t exist!!? Classic. But for a girl to be forgetful is just ditsy, a girl to be angry is crazy, a girl to be distracted/distracting is just attention seeking. You know how it goes. Thankfully there has been a surge in awareness around ADHD and neurodivergence in women recently.
I now realise that I have unknowingly been singing about my struggles with ADHD and its influence on my music. My song It’s A Lot from my new Island Time EP has the lyrics “keep picking at it making it worse” which is a literal neurodivergent thing. It’s A Lot is about overthinking and getting completely overwhelmed with it all too. Which is soooo ADHD haha. My songs reference struggles with patience, interaction, understanding, head noise and mental health. I don’t know if this diagnosis will affect my songwriting, but I think it must have already. And I guess my new EP which I wrote and recorded as I was on this journey, reflects finding some answers.
Now I can be aware of these things and hopefully use them, because on the other hand it’s almost confirmed my little superpowers.
These are things I’ve been coming to terms with and now I’m just excited for the projects to come and how much further I can go. It makes me everything that I want to be; a person who values passion, creativity, expression, feelings and personality.
It’s been a hard journey to come to terms with this in my 20s. There’s relief, joy, gratitude, understanding, closure, and hope, but also guilt; looking back at everything I’ve ever done, a sense of missing out, what could I have achieved if I knew about this and had tools to help myself earlier?
What I’ve learnt along the way is that neurodivergent people are actually just amazing and we’ve achieved some of the greatest things in the world. We are incredibly creative, intelligent, fun, out-of-the-box thinkers. If we are allowed to think and do things the way we want it can be absolutely magical. It’s a lot to think about for my overthinking brain.
I just hyper focused and wrote this in 20 minutes and that’s how cool ADHD can be.
Thank you for reading my words, this is all still just scratching the surface and just my experience. It’s a lot
Maddy Jane’s ‘Island Time’ EP is now. See all upcoming tour dates in support below:
Friday 30th Sept – Altar, Hobart
Sat 1st Oct – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Thursday 6th Oct – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Friday 7th Oct – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay
Sat 15th Oct – Mary’s Underground, Sydney